Abbott Laboratories has unveiled a coronavirus test that can give the results in just five minutes. The device is portable and so small that it can be used anywhere. The medical device maker claims that they will be able to supply 50,000 tests starting from April 1, 2020.
As the U.S. grapples with this pandemic, the launch of Abbott’s new testing device brings a lot of hope to the health care providers. At the time of writing this article, the U.S. already has over 140,000 cases and the administration has already come under a lot of criticism due to lack of aggressive testing as it is being done in South Korea and some other countries. The U.S. has struggled to supply enough test kits to detect the Covid-19, and this outbreak has overwhelmed the hospitals in New York, Washington, California, and other regions.
Initially, the testing was restricted to high-risk people, and there were problems with the test designed by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The launch of this point-of-care coronavirus test brings in tremendous opportunities to front-line health caregivers. This will help them to reduce the gap in testing the novel coronavirus across the country.
Abbott Laboratories has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is being said that as of now, Abbott’s testing device will be used only in the U.S. However, depending on how the situation evolves, it could be used by other countries as well, including India.
What makes the test so different?
What makes this molecular test different from the existing tests is that it can be used in any kind of healthcare setting, whether it is outside the hospital or any urgent care clinic.
Abbott’s Covid-19 test works on Abbott’s ID NOW platform that can be used in various locations, not just inside a healthcare facility. It is a lightweight box weighing 6.6 pounds and is as small as a toaster. This is one of the most common point-of-care tests which is presently available in the country.
ID-NOW was first introduced in 2014 and has been broadly used to detect influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (a common bug that causes cold-like symptoms), and strep throat. The unique isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology enables molecular results in just a few minutes, allowing medical professionals to make evidence-based decisions for the patient.
The pharma giant has succeeded in bringing the alternate testing technology to combat this novel coronavirus.
How does this test work?
This molecular test looks for fragments of the virus genome, which can be detected quickly when present at high levels. Although thorough research to conclusively rule out the infection could take up to 13 minutes.
In a chemical solution, a throat or nasal swab is mixed that breaks open the virus, thus releasing its genetic material. The mixture is then inserted into Abbott’s ID NOW system. The technology amplifies and identifies select sequences of the coronavirus genome while ignoring contamination from other viruses.
The device can be set up almost anywhere. However, the company is working with its clients and Trump administration to make sure that the first cartridges are dispatched to places where they are needed the most. The target is to send to hospital emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and urgent-care clinics.
Abbott’s m2000 Real-Time system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week for use in molecular laboratories and hospitals to detect the infection. This system could churn out more tests daily, almost 1 million a week. However, it takes longer to get the results. Now combined with ID NOW, the company expects to produce 5 million tests in April.
Abbott Laboratories new test takes molecular testing to the front lines
Testing remains a crucial step in controlling this pandemic and continuous supply to healthcare providers with new technologies to help control the spread of this disease remains the top priority for medical professionals
This new test device offers rapid results and can be deployed in varied settings, thus cutting down testing wait time to as little as five minutes from hours.
All we can say as of now is that Abbott Laboratories new Covid-19 testing device could be ‘game-changer’ for the U.S. in its fight with coronavirus pandemic.